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Bianchi accident "bad luck" say Suzuka officials

NEWS STORY
07/10/2014

Officials at Suzuka claim the accident that has left Jules Bianchi fighting for his life was due to bad luck rather than poor decisions.

As the French youngster fights for his life and the FIA calls for an investigation, Suzuka Circuit spokesman Masamichi Miyazaki insists that effectively, the Marussia driver was the victim of a freak set of circumstances.

"Officials raised 'double yellow flags' after the accident by Sutil, which means drivers had to slow down to the speed that they can immediately stop, but unfortunately Bianchi's car aquaplaned right at the time and ran into the accident site, which was bad luck," said Miyazaki, according to Reuters.

"Admittedly, rain was coming and the road was wet, but not heavy enough to halt the race, and I believe the race officials made the same judgement."

Meanwhile, newly appointed president of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA), Alex Wurz, has warned the sport against a knee-jerk reaction to the incident.

"Obviously, such a terrible accident throws up a lot of questions and opinions," said the Austrian, according to ESPN. "By nature, we all like to have answers, conclusions and solutions as soon as possible. All of us drivers understand and also feel the need to investigate and discuss this matter. But we shall not jump to conclusions without having all evidence and information, and also having the chance to hear other parties' point of view."

The former Benetton, McLaren and Williams driver, two-time Le Mans winner now enjoying success in LMP1 with Toyota, also warned colleagues to be guarded in their comments in the coming days.

"We would rather not debate this accident until we have all information collected," he said. "Most certainly, I recommend to all the drivers to refrain from a public discussion. Any such discussions and the pursuit of solutions shall be done in a closed circle to ensure respect and privacy for Jules's family, but equally to ensure this analytical process can be done in its best way.

"We need to give the experts time to analyse everything and, of course, we offer our full support to whichever authorities may be involved in this process. But foremost, we want to support the family and friends of Jules. We do this in the best way, not by inflaming knee-jerk conclusions. Our thoughts are with Jules and his family."

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1. Posted by HappyHippyBiker, 08/10/2014 13:27

"If you have a high ground clearence vehicle in proximity to a low hight vehicle with no safety measures to prevent it, it is inevitable that eventually one will go underneith the other. This FACT has been recognised on the public roads for a long time, which is why lorries are fitted with under-ride guards. The fact that a car has already crashed, requiring recovery, has already made it apparent that there is an issue of some sort at that location. As was noted earlier in the race, reducing the speed of an F1car does not prevent aquaplaning. It has for some time been very obvious that recovery vehicle safety is of paramount importance, may I remind people that the last faitality in F1 of which I am aware was a marshal being run over by a recovery vehicle (Canada 2013) so the danger accociated with vehicle recovery is more than self evident. Would it be that expensive to design and fit under-ride guards with meshing (to prevent marshals getting trapped under the vehicles) to these recovery vehicles?"

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2. Posted by wmcot54, 08/10/2014 4:24

"For MrShadow: In the American LeMans (now TUDOR) series, a full course yellow is put in place and THEN the safety vehicles go to the stricken car."

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3. Posted by wmcot54, 08/10/2014 4:21

"To clarify my last post, it's 'bad luck' when a driver makes an error and goes off into the barriers. It's stupidity on the part of the race organizers when it's caused by rivers of water flowing across the track from a typhoon."

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4. Posted by wmcot54, 08/10/2014 4:18

"Yeah. I would blame it on 'bad luck' too if I didn't want to get my @$$ sued."

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5. Posted by scf1fan, 07/10/2014 15:43

"@MrShadow - We do not currently have such levels of protection for the driver, and probably never will under an open cockpit formula . . . and that still leaves the safety of the track workers at risk. If the retrieval/utility vehicle poses a greater risk than the problem they are resolving, then they shouldn't be out there. Unless the track is in a controlled condition, the track workers (short of a dire emergency) should also not be beyond the barriers. So for this circumstance, yes, I would demand that the race be "neutralized" for everyone's safety. (It wouldn't be the first time, nore will it be the last, and as of yet, a dead body has never been restarted.) Until that time when the track was made safe, then the drivers would have all been safer without the crane on the course runoff. When things are that bad, you don't do anything to compound the existing problem.

Specifically in this case, the circuit had lost control over almost all of the important variables; traction, visibility, knowledge of the actual conditions, etc.; then they sent out a piece of equipment, into an error-likely situation, that had just the right geometry to exacerbate any additional accidents. Most of the cranes at Monte Carlo can reach over the barriers, which would have helped. But that would have done nothing for a track worker. (Would we be "happier" if it had only been a track worker killed or injured? No!) As drivers, we were told (and I'd assume that this should still be the case) to stay in the car (short of an actual fire in the cockpit) until we are sure, or have a track worker indicate that the conditions are safe to get out. (And that's not followed often enough!) Under the conditions of this race, that track was not going to be safe unless the safety car had minimally gathered up and slowed down the remaining cars. Only then should anyone have sent out the retrieval vehicles and the track workers . . .

I'll agree with Max Mosely on this; you need the rules to protect the drivers (and the track workers, and the fans) . . . because in the heat of the moment, those are the wrong people to count on to do the right thing on their own accord. "

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6. Posted by MrShadow, 07/10/2014 12:19

"These vehicles are to ensure that cars can be removed without the race having to be neutralized. To demand that they have to be dispatched only after the safety car is out would not be effective. Besides an accident might happen in safety car situation as well, are we then going to demand a race to be red-flagged on every incident?
Two things must be looked in to. First is better protection in the rare cases such accident happens, an impact such as this should be mitigated. Second is a faster decision making from race officials. If a car goes off track due to aquaplaning it is time to bring out the safety car."

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7. Posted by scf1fan, 07/10/2014 11:38

"Although I would think that the reported response is a bit callus, it is probably correct. The object can not be to eliminate the possibility of all accidents, but to do what is needed to eliminate the possibility that the accident will result in injury.

In this case the best response would be to have not allowed any support vehicles onto an active track which can pose the risk that this "Crane" did. (That of being able to be "submarined" by one of the cars.) The crane (actually some type of forklift/articulated loader) should have either been kept behind the barriers or had its own perimeter barrier/bumper close to the ground. Alternately, (and I would say preferentially) such an "unguarded" and relatively stationary vehicle should not have been allowed onto the track until all the cars had been gathered up and slowed by the pace/safety car. This at least would have lowered the probability of an accident as well as the potential speed and severity of the impact."

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